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2012 Draft Prep: On the defensive

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For some people, starting eight, nine or 10 players just isn't enough. Sometimes you need to start at least 15. For those people, defensive players are part of the league game plan and part of the enjoyment of Fantasy Football.

When you are asked to start individual defensive players (IDPs), the game becomes a bit more challenging. You must focus on both sides of the line of scrimmage and all players around the league, not just the customary quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Everything from draft strategies to waiver claims become complicated.

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Using IDPs isn't for everybody but it's becoming increasingly popular. Some leagues have added one or two defenders to their starting lineup requirements as a way to "test" whether or not they should be bigger parts of rosters. Other leagues have already decided that IDPs is more fun and ask owners to use eleven of them -- that's on top of a deep starting lineup.

Picking good IDPs is lot like picking good offensive players: Get guys who are around the ball. Ball-hawking defensive backs and playmakers in the front seven are always desirable Fantasy options because they're racking up stats by making tackles, registering sacks, forcing fumbles, deflecting or intercepting passes and scoring touchdowns. The only exception, and it's a weird one, are stud cornerbacks who don't get thrown at as much.

Like yardage for typical Fantasy players, tackles are the primary stat to use to judge IDPs. Most leagues that use defenders rely on both solo and assisted tackles to give points, with the other defensive stats boosting totals. You might see all tackles count for one point; passes defensed, forced fumbles and recoveries count for two; sacks and interceptions count for three; and touchdowns count for six. Obviously, because a good defender will make anywhere from 90 to 150 total tackles in a season versus a handful of other stats, tackles are king.

We're going to provide you a rank list for IDPs (good through the start of training camp), but a sharp Fantasy owner should always keep an eye on the waiver wire for rising talent. That's the key to success with defenders. Just like offensive players, defenders will come out of nowhere to post big stats and be helpful options to your team. Win the battle of uncovering waiver-wire gems, and you'll be on your way to IDP-league success.

IDP rankings
  Defensive linemen Linebackers Defensive backs
1 Jared Allen Patrick Willis Roman Harper
2 Jason Pierre-Paul James Laurinaitis Tyvon Branch
3 Kamerion Wimbley Curtis Lofton Yeremiah Bell
4 Julius Peppers D'Qwell Jackson Morgan Burnett
5 Trent Cole Derrick Johnson Eric Weddle
6 Jason Babin London Fletcher Charles Woodson
7 Cameron Wake DeMarcus Ware Mark Barron
8 Justin Smith Karlos Dansby Jairus Byrd
9 Adrian Clayborn Chad Greenway Antoine Bethea
10 Calais Campbell Sean Weatherspoon Charles Tillman
11 Charles Johnson Pat Angerer Kam Chancellor
12 Justin Tuck Stephen Tulloch Antrel Rolle
13 Jeremy Mincey Brian Cushing Bernard Pollard
14 Jabaal Sheard Sean Lee Eric Berry
15 Haloti Ngata James Harrison Quintin Mikell
16 Mario Williams Desmond Bishop Dawan Landry
17 Chris Clemons NaVorro Bowman George Wilson
18 Cliff Avril James Anderson Earl Thomas
19 Ahtyba Rubin Daryl Washington Devin McCourty
20 Elvis Dumervil Lance Briggs Dashon Goldson
21 Kyle Williams Lawrence Timmons DeAngelo Hall
22 Matt Shaughnessy DeMeco Ryans Malcolm Jenkins
23 Shea McClellin Von Miller Brandon Flowers
24 Andre Branch Brian Urlacher Tramon Williams
25 Chris Long Ray Lewis Reggie Nelson
26 Israel Idonije Donald Butler Steve Gregory
27 Osi Umenyiora David Harris Joe Haden
28 John Abraham Tamba Hali Brandon Carr
29 Kyle Vanden Bosch Akeem Dent Gerald Sensabaugh
30 J.J. Watt Daryl Smith Kenny Phillips
31 Ndamukong Suh Mason Foster Richard Marshall
32 Darnell Dockett Colin McCarthy Morris Claiborne
33 Brian Robison Paul Posluszny Jason McCourty
34 Geno Atkins Luke Kuechly Darian Stewart
35 James Hall Perry Riley T.J. Ward
36 Mark Anderson David Hawthorne Harrison Smith
37 Derrick Morgan Clay Matthews Ryan Clark
38 Trevor Scott Bobby Wagner Troy Polamalu
39 Richard Seymour Jon Beason Michael Griffin
40 Marcell Dareus LaMarr Woodley Patrick Peterson

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Marcus Lattimore eager to start pro career
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2014) 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore is ready to start his proffesional career. After blowing out his knee in a gruesome injury in October of 2012 at South Carolina, Lattimore told The State on Sunday that his knee rehab is complete and that he's "ready to play."

Lattimore, who will attend the first day of the team's offseason workouts, will enter a crowded backfield with Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James already backing up current starter Frank Gore. However, James has expressed his desire for a bigger role and could be dealt, opening the door for the No. 3 spot in the backfield.

"If that happens, it does put me in that No. 3 spot," Lattimore said. "But I've just got to go in there and work hard. I can pass-protect and run the ball. I've got to show that."


Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jogging
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
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(4/18/2014) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

 
 
 
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